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It’s a role which conjures the image of a demure character charged with ensuring a hushed silence in one of England’s great centres of learning.
So it is little surprise that Oxford University student Madeline Grant’s bid to win an election to become a librarian by claiming ‘I have a great rack’, has provoked such disquiet.
The English undergraduate has been accused of a ‘sexist’ attempt to sway votes when she wrote on her manifesto for Union Librarian: ‘I don’t hack, I just have a great rack.’
Jeffrey Beall, metadata librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver, keeps a running list on his blog Scholarly Open Access of what he calls "predatory" publishers and journals. He said he has identified about 50 so far, and comes across a new one nearly every week.
Social constructionism, constructivism, post-structuralism, standpoint epistemology, deconstructionism….ever heard of these? Chance are, if you’ve taken a look at some of the recent literature in the philosophical aspects of librarianship, you’ve come across these and/or similar theories. Variously lumped together under the aegis of postmodernism, these theories are distinct, yet they are united through a common belief that we have no epistemic access to a mind-independent reality. Some of these theories go even further and claim not only that we can’t know anything about the world outside of ourselves, but that there isn’t even an objective, mind-independent reality at all—reality is subjective. In effect, these theories advocate various forms of relativism. I’ve criticized this type of relativistic thinking in previous posts, but perhaps it’s time to clarify. Specifically, I want to explain why relativism, in all of its forms, is harmful to librarianship. This type of thinking is self-refuting, it impedes learning, it disenfranchises those who most need our help, it obstructs social progress, and it erodes the value of libraries in society.
Nobody cares about the library: How digital technology makes the library invisible (and visible) to scholars
In an information landscape increasingly dominated by networked resources, both sides of the librarian-scholar/student relationship must come to terms with a new reality that is in some ways more distant and in others closer than ever before. Librarians must learn to accept invisibility where digital realities demand it. Scholars must come to understand the centrality of library expertise and accept librarians as equal partners as more and more scholarship becomes born digital and the digital humanities goes from being a fringe sub-discipline to a mainstream pursuit. Librarians in turn must expand those services like special collections, support for data-driven research, and access to new modes of publication that play to their strengths and will best serve scholars. We all have to find new ways, better ways to work together.
Occupy Lamont’s rhetoric distracts from the issue of layoffs
"Again, we welcome Occupy Lamont to go about their business. But a discussion of the kind that they claim to be interested in having ought not distract from the issue at hand. As a community, we do not need to re-imagine the fundamental properties of the library. There is no impetus to do so, and Harvard’s librarians, led by University Librarian Robert C. Darnton ’60, have been working not only on modernizing our system but also making Harvard’s material accessible for free online. Occupy Lamont distracts and potentially impinges on this real progress, and stands in the way of a frank discussion about layoffs."
Libraries Receiving a Shrinking Piece of the University Pie
The simplest explanation to describe this trend is that the library has lost its coveted position as the intellectual hub of the university; that administrators don’t think of the library anymore — after all, information that arrives on one’s desktop must be free; and that students value the library more as a quiet place to nap between classes than as a scholarly resource. While these factors may be in play, I don’t believe they explain the trend.
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has released a “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries” — a 32-page document, based on interviews with dozens of librarians, outlining the principles and limitations it believes are relevant to eight common scenarios. The guidelines also recommend additional actions libraries can take to insulate themselves against legal challenges.
Securiteam pointed the way to The Vancouver Sun (orginally from The Ottawa Citizen) on a new survey that says
Academic journals that decide which research discoveries count as important are practising widespread “coercion” to gain influence, at the expense of their own credibility. [A quick search for the actual study failed, so put this under the "it's on the internet so it's true file]
"This chart shows the upper/lower quartiles and median for circulation per FTE student. As you can see this data shows a much more dramatic drop in the circulation of library materials. Rising student populations hide this fact.
Remember Desiree Goodwin who sued Harvard Library and lost? She's still at Harvard and still looking for better working conditions (for the pretty?); here's her note:
I just signed the petition "HUCTW Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, Bill Jaeger: Stand Up for Workers' Rights!" and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.
Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here: